Tuberville’s Ill-Fated Military Promotions Blockade Sparks Government Watchdog Review

by Braxton Taylor

A government watchdog will probe how military families and national security were affected by last year’s blockade on senior military promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.

The Government Accountability Office has accepted a request from two Democratic congressmen to review the short- and long-term effects of Tuberville’s nearly yearlong hold on general and admiral nominees, GAO spokesperson Chuck Young confirmed Friday.

The agency expects the investigation to begin “shortly,” Young added.

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From late February last year to mid-December, Tuberville prevented the Senate from quickly confirming all nominees for general and flag officers using a procedural tactic known as a hold. Tuberville’s blockade was an effort to force the Pentagon to reverse its policy of covering travel expenses and providing leave for service members seeking abortions.

Eventually, more than 430 military officers were caught in Tuberville’s hold, including about half of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pentagon officials and Democratic lawmakers argued the hold had cascading, harmful effects on the military, including adding stress to military families who could not plan for moves or raises that come with the promotions.

Tuberville was unmoved for months by entreaties he was harming the military, arguing Democrats could take individual roll-call votes on each nominee if they were really concerned about readiness.

But, as his Republican colleagues grew increasingly publicly frustrated at his actions and signaled they would side with Democrats to circumvent the hold, Tuberville dropped his blockade despite winning no concessions from the Pentagon.

Tuberville’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday on the GAO agreeing to review the effects of the hold.

The GAO decision, which was first reported by Politico, comes a week after Democratic Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Robert Garcia of California requested the watchdog investigate.

Raskin, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, and Garcia, the ranking member of the committee’s national security subcommittee, specifically asked the GAO to review what effects Tuberville’s hold had on overall military readiness, national security and military families.

The lawmakers also asked the GAO to look at any processes the Pentagon uses when military promotions are stalled for indefinite and prolonged periods.

“While Sen. Tuberville’s holds directly affected hundreds of senior military officials, junior officers indirectly lost the opportunity to rise in rank and gain experience,” Raskin and Garcia wrote in their letter to the GAO. “Such career stagnation radiates massive effects on factors such as service member retention, pay, pension and future opportunities.”

Related: Tuberville Blockade Finally Concludes with Confirmation of 11 Remaining Four-Star Generals and Admirals

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